College Sports

Spurrier: Loss may not be crucial

COLUMBIA -- Those expecting a confident declaration from South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on the Gamecocks' chances Saturday were in for a rude awakening.

"We're 1-0," Spurrier said, discussing No. 12 USC's chances for the SEC title. "We don't have to beat LSU to still be in contention. And I told the guys that."


Sure, the opponent this week is No. 2 LSU at Tiger Stadium, but still, that sounds an awful lot like laying up before the match.

Spurrier said he wasn't glooming and dooming but was looking at it realistically. There's always the chance of an upset but even if LSU wins Saturday, USC wouldn't be out of the race.

"We've got nine more ballgames," Spurrier said. "You know you always believe you've got a chance, but you also got to be realistic with your team, in saying, 'Hey, if it doesn't work out, we've got Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vandy, North Carolina, on down the line.'"

• WHAT'S MY NAME?: LSU coach Les Miles discussed USC at his weekly press conference, which had South Carolina media listening by telephone. It may have been a bad connection or it may have been a mix of Miles' Ohio upbringing and his current location, but it sounded like he referred to USC's starting tailback as "Cory Byrd."

Cory Boyd wasn't amused.

"That's something our strength coaches spoke to us about (Tuesday) in the weight room," Boyd said. "Said the guys don't even know us over there. They act like we're nobodies. They're looking over us."

Boyd was his usual loquacious self Tuesday, saying he hoped the Gamecocks could overcome a sluggish offensive start Saturday, with the expected crowd noise to be unlike anything USC has ever heard. He also said he didn't mind that much that Miles butchered his name.

"You don't have to know my name," he said. "Hopefully at the end of the game you'll understand who Cory Boyd is. You'll understand who Kenny McKinley is. You'll understand who Jasper Brinkley is."

• STIRRING IT UP: When Michigan began the season 0-2, losing both games at home, the subject came up about how much longer coach Lloyd Carr would be around. One of his potential successors is Miles, a former Michigan player (1974-75) and assistant coach (1980-81, 1987-94).

Spurrier recalled he phoned Miles when he took the LSU job, saying he took the best job in college football. Spurrier was referring to LSU's recent recruiting classes under Miles' predecessor, Nick Saban, who hauled in some of the top prospects in the nation before leaving.

But one Baton Rouge reporter asked Spurrier if the job was so good and Miles left, would he be interested in replacing him.

"This is my college job right here," Spurrier laughed. "I got a lot more to worry about than Les Miles going to Michigan.

"Tell LSU they had a shot at me back in 1986. I didn't even get a second interview back then."

Spurrier is under contract with the Gamecocks until 2012, signing an extension this past December. He was given the new deal after Miami and Alabama were said to be interested in Spurrier during the last offseason.

• BARNESES OVER BROWNS: Spurrier mentioned he may be shaking up his wide receiver rotation while the passing game continues to search for answers. When it's not pass-blocking or shoddy quarterback play, it's receivers dropping balls.

Freddie Brown and Moe Brown have been splitting time on the other side of McKinley, the Gamecocks' best pass-catcher. Each has had good moments but far too many bad ones, like when Moe Brown let a touchdown pass clang off his facemask against S.C. State.

An answer may be to substitute freshmen Mark Barnes and Jason Barnes (no relation). The rookie receivers got their first action against S.C. State, Mark catching two passes for 12 yards and a touchdown and Jason hauling in a 34-yard pass.

Spurrier also said the play of freshman receiver Dion Lecorn deserved merit, since Lecorn was captured on tape pass-blocking much better than USC's other receivers.

• ON THE MEND: The biggest injury this week was Nathan Pepper, who had an MRI done on his left knee and was told he needed surgery. He's out for the season, getting the bad news two days after he intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown against S.C. State.

Pepper will apply for a medical redshirt.

Safety Brandon Isaac is doubtful for LSU after separating his shoulder and offensive lineman Gurminder Thind is also doubtful while recovering from a sprained ankle. Linebacker Dustin Lindsey (knee), linebacker Yvan Banag (knee), offensive lineman Kevin Young (ankle) and tailback Bobby Wallace (collarbone) are questionable.

Quarterback Chris Smelley (shoulder) and receiver Chris Culliver (ankle) should be ready this week. Offensive lineman James Thompson (suspension) is back on the team and may play.